The first stage of the Eastern Busway from Panmure to Pakuranga is currently under construction and is the first step in giving much needed high-quality public transport to East Auckland, one of the most poorly served areas in the city for PT. But as the name implies, stage one is only the start and the plan has always been to extend it from Pakuranga to Botany.

Last Friday, Auckland Transport announced they would start the procurement process for the combined stages 2, 3 & 4 which would get the busway to Botany and the intention is to have construction start in 2022 and be completed in 2025.

Thousands of new jobs in the infrastructure sector will result from Auckland Transport’s announcement to proceed with a Registration of Interest (ROI) for an integrated design, engineering and construction partner consortium to deliver the remaining stages of the $1.4b AMETI Eastern Busway project between Pakuranga and Botany.

The contract value for the construction phase alone will be $450m – with the total spend on stages 2, 3 and 4 being $700m. As the agency responsible for delivering the project, Auckland Transport will form an alliance partnership with the successful consortium.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the decision to proceed with the next three stages of the Eastern Busway makes the project one of the biggest investment decisions across the whole of Auckland.

“It represents a total spend of $700 million, with huge benefits for expanding rapid public transit, cycling and walking as well as easing pressure on traffic congestion,” he says.

“Coming as we recover from the COVID-19-induced international recession, it will create a much-needed boost to jobs and incomes and assist Auckland’s economic recovery.”

…..

Targeted for completion in 2025, stages 2, 3 and 4 of the project will extend the rapid transit network, high frequency busway currently under construction between Panmure and Pakuranga, and from Pakuranga Plaza through to Botany Town Centre.

The project will include the congestion-free busway along Ti Rakau Drive, major stations at Pakuranga and Botany Town Centres, a flyover connecting Pakuranga Road with Waipuna Bridge, along with extensive cycling, walking, placemaking and environmental improvements.

AT will also include social procurement measures as part of the tendering process. This will require commitment from suppliers to deliver positive environmental, cultural, social and employment outcomes – such as local community employment and upskilling, during the design and construction phases.

Shane Ellison, Chief Executive of Auckland Transport, says that in addition to the economic benefits of a large-scale contract being launched to the market, the concept of forming an alliance to fast-track overall design, consenting and construction of the whole project is also a major factor in this procurement; with enhanced focus on improving community and transport outcomes while reducing impacts through greater industry collaboration and access to expertise and resources.

“This is the first time AT has adopted the alliance model and it is the best option for a project of this scale and complexity. Forming an alliance is a tested tool for delivering complex large-scale projects across the world and some good local examples include the Waterview Connection, Northern Corridor Improvements and Wynyard Edge,” Mr Ellison says.

The Eastern Busway Alliance will be formed in late 2020, and will move quickly towards finalising design and working to lodgment of consent in 2021, followed by construction of the full works in 2022. The Alliance also provides the opportunity to target early enabling works in advance of the main construction works.

The overall AMETI project is one of the longest running and slowest to deliver projects in Auckland. The project was born out of the failed Eastern Motorway scheme of the early 2000’s and the general design for it has been unchanged for about a decade. Yet despite often being cited as the second most important project in the region after the City Rail Link, and long having had support from both sides of the political aisle, the project has taken an age to get to this point.

Once completed the busway will undoubtedly be popular as when combined with an easy transfer to train at Panmure, will enable people to reliably get from Botany to the city centre in under 40 minutes. From memory, previous predictions have suggested that 5 million people could use it annually but if we get back to the way things were heading pre-covid, it could end up much more.

The biggest issue with AMETI though has always been that it is about implementing the busway without sacrificing even the slightest amount of vehicle priority or capacity – and some parts further entrenching it. Much of this feels like slavishly adhering to a traffic model instead of questioning it.

Pakuranga is destined to become an even greater sea of roads and cars, both on the surface and in the air thanks to the Reeves Rd Flyover bisecting the town. Around the world cities are looking to rip out structures just what AT have been planning.

AT justify the flyover by saying it’s about getting traffic out of the Ti Rakau Dr/Reeves Rd/Pakuranga Hwy intersection and yet despite it, the intersections are still many many lanes wide thanks to dedicated lanes nearly for every single possible movement at intersections. All these lanes will only serve to make it harder and less attractive to walking as well as making it difficult to cross the road.

Even where they’ve got the flyover replacing Reeves Rd, AT still can’t seem to bring themselves to make it fully bus only. Are we going to end up with buses to/from Howick being held up by cars circling the mall looking for a carpark? Buses will already have longer trips from the dogleg via Reeves Rd – although by doing so it does at least open up options for transferring.

Another quirk is if you look at William Roberts Rd, you can see two cul-de-sacs are being created after AT cuts off the road from Pakuranga Hwy. The northern one appears to be to serve just two houses. Can’t they be served by a driveway, or alternatively why not get the likes of Panuku or Kainga Ora in there to buy them and a few others up and redevelop them. Where are the value engineers when you need them?

East of Pakuranga the busway moves to run in the centre of the road and will see many of the smaller side roads become left in / left out intersections.

Another example of the over-indulgent road provision is at the intersection with Gossamer Dr. Here’s what Gossamer Dr looks like today from the intersection, a two lane, tree lined road.

Yet the plans appear to show it being widened to 5 lanes to cater for all types of traffic movement. at the intersection taking out trees on at least one side and the front of some properties. On Ti Rakau there’s even left turning lanes, again likely as a result of of too much reliance on the modelling.

The busway will continue like this further east towards botany. At this stage there are no plans AT have made public for where the Botany station will be or what it will look like. It would be good if AT could release that soon.

The final thing worth noting with all of these plans is just how much land take is needed. Swathes of houses will be demolished to make room for the busway and surrounding roads

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59 comments

  1. ‘The model made me do it’

    The expressway goes from 4 lanes to 10 at the Ti Rakau Rd intersection! 100% capacity continues over flyover PLUS 150% to/from Ti Rakau. This is insane; and extremely land and house hungry.

    What happened to cost control, value analysis? By any measure this is an orgy of traffic engineering without any apparent oversight or context. Even in its own terms it won’t work; at that intersection 5 lanes go into 2. Given there is so much overcapacity delivered downstream this will clog.

    Darkly I guess you could argue that at least the project destroys so much housing in the area that that at least will do the most to reduce congestion….

    Yes the busway and bike paths offer real choice, but first you have to get across all those overscaled intersections to the station in one piece…

    What climate change metrics do they have in these models? That bogus ‘speeding up traffic lowers emission’ lie?

    1. It’s for queuing capacity at the intersection, that space is there so that the traffic has plenty of room to fill up.

      1. Which is probably something we should blog directly about. Other transport systems – even other traffic circulation design systems – don’t require this queuing capacity. It’s a land-hungry fault of how our traffic engineers are trained to think.

        1. I think there were as many traffic engineers opposed to this as for it. It was a grand road building scheme thought up by project managers who wanted a big job. Please don’t just assume because it carries traffic that traffic engineers are to blame.

  2. The car hater who writes this blog can’t compliment a PT transport because it doesn’t take any space of the “metal boxes”. As he lives out west probably don’t know well the people from east and their needs.
    While better PT is much needed, it won’t solve everyone’s problems as not everyone works in the city. People who work in other areas where business are sprawled will still need their cars and won’t jump into PT if they have to do three transfers like me.
    The city would be a better place if we had more moderate people, not the extreme left-wing “cool” guys from Auckland Design Office or this blog, or the stupid right-wings like Mike Hoskings. It’s not a war on cars or bikes or PT, it is about how to make it better for everyone on a poor designed city and full of geographic challenges like Auckland.

    1. So Luis you call for “more moderate people” after calling Matt a “car hater”. Have you got any self insight at all?
      And the people in the est have different transport needs than people in the west? Do tell us more please.

      1. Also let us know the research and effort you have gone to, to understand the needs of the East, coupled with how your ideas will also mitagate Climate Change.

        Interested to hear your views and ideas rather than name slinging.

      2. That’s based on what he tweets: https://twitter.com/GreaterAKL/status/1253135059063762946
        “and those driving multi-ton lumps of steel that are causing the deaths and injuries”
        Isn’t it car hate? As Mike Hoskings is a bike hater. And while these type of war happens city won’t move either way.
        West already has better transport than East. And still the motorway to the city is congested. Finding why and listening to people why they don’t use as much PT having a train would be a way to start.
        But what I was saying is that people who live in the area and specialists should be heard, not passionate people defending a cause blindly.

        1. “not passionate people defending a cause blindly.”

          Agree. The people wanting a flyover despite all the reasons against it are indeed blind.

          Ooops, wasn’t what you meant? Mmmmmmh.

        2. I think most people in this country eat way too much food (myself included) and we really should cut down and make better choices. Does this make me a food hater?

        3. “and those driving multi-ton lumps of steel that are causing the deaths and injuries”
          “Isn’t it car hate? ”

          No, it’s an acceptance of objective reqality.

        4. “As Mike Hoskings is a bike hater.”

          I heard that Mike Hosking was “threatening to leave town”. Mike, please let us know when you are leaving Auckland so we can wave you good-bye

    2. I think, Luis, you mistake the above design as being good for the motorist. Pretty clear that the Busway and cycleway parts will be; depending on how many people use them and leave their cars at home more often, thereby getting out of your way on the roads.

      But it is a huge, though common, mistake to believe that more roads, and especially more complicated multi-optioned urban roads like these, make for a better driving experience for those who wish or need to drive.

      First the they induce more driving in general, second this sort of ill-disciplined every possible driving option kind of design makes for endless aimless driving around in circles for local access. In short; congestion, severance, awful local environment.

      Other traffic, always, is the problem traffic faces, the design above increases traffic, while also removing people. Amazing. Not good for motorists.

      1. As I couldn’t reply to your last comment, I’ll do it here.
        I’ll give you two articles but pretty sure you’ll desqualify then somehow:
        https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/weekly-standard/more-highways-less-congestion
        https://www.cato.org/blog/debunking-induced-demand-myth
        And we are not discussing one extra lane one a highway. We are trying to fix an issue with Auckland mobility in general. But if people insist in “cars bad, bikes and walking good”, or the opposite, instead of looking at the whole problem, then nothing gets done.
        As a challenge for you: why SH16 is so congested if there’s a train as an option to get into the city? Maybe the key question to answer is the “chicken and the egg” question I asked myself when I moved to Auckland and suffered for two months without a car:
        ” Is the public transport crap because people don’t use it (not enough demand due to low density), or people don’t use because it’s crap (not reliable, not frequent and expensive)?”

        1. A good starting point to answer your question would be to look at a map. SH16 and the Western rail line are not exactly side-by-side for most of their routes, they serve quite different catchments.

        2. LOL Cato Institute, that renowned source of objectivity. But even so, in that article they conclude by saying that road pricing is the answer. Yes. That is correct, how so? Because unrestrained traffic volume is the whole problem with urban systems, not supplying ever more road space without restriction. So even while they try to nitpick at a universally observed phenomenon, they can’t help but support its truth.

          Note induced demand is not mode specific, the same is true of bike lanes or rail systems or whatever; whatever is provided and works, outside of a declining population, will increase in use. Auckland over the last 20 years is proof of that. This is uncontroversial.

        3. A good early response to the Cato article was this one:
          https://urbanist.co/busting-four-biggest-myths-induced-demand/

          The first one Luis linked is full of strawmen.

          An important work on induced demand is Duranton and Turner’s finding that all other things equal, vkt increases proportionately with road capacity. Garcia et al. have confirmed the same holds true in Europe. Both were metastudies, using vast amounts of data.

          Luis, the reply button cuts out after a few nests. Call the comment you’d like to reply to ‘comment B’. If it doesn’t have a reply button, the commenter will have replied to a comment above, which we’ll call ‘comment A’. If you reply to that same comment A, yours will appear below comment B.

    3. Luis, we have a climate emergency, a safety crisis, and a population restricted by our car-dependent transport system.

      We can fix this, but it will take understanding that to increase options, access, safety and sustainability, the dominance of the car must reduce, and the land wasted on its space hungry needs must be reallocated.

      This design is an appalling product of a transport era that can be summarised as an engineering mistake.

    4. I don’t think it’s fair for everyone to jump down Luis’s throat on this. It’s certainly a widespread view and much more balanced than the perspective of some – like Mike Hosking.

      Luis – I think perhaps the key point to highlight is that this design has added enormous cost and other impacts to ensure that the same amount (or more) of general traffic capacity is retained alongside the busway being put in. It’s unclear whether that has been the right decision, as we have not seen what a more modest proposal largely based around reallocating existing space to PT would have achieved.

      There’s no doubt the southeast is a very car dependent part of Auckland and that won’t change overnight. People will still need to get around by car. I guess my worry (and I think it’s Matt’s worry as well) is that this “design by modelling” approach will make things worse for people the modelling doesn’t consider (e.g. pedestrians) while not providing a long-lasting benefit due to something else the modelling doesn’t really properly consider (included demand).

    5. Agree with @OK Miffy [heh] here.

      @Luis, as OKM points out, the “commonsense”, but incorrect thinking assumes that increasing roading capacity improves congestion and driving conditions. This has actually been widely proven as false for a couple decades. I learned it in my very first traffic engineering course in uni 15 years ago. This is engineering 101 and widely accepted in the industry, yet amazingly modelling and most project assessments simply ignore it. The counter-intuitive result is that increasing capacity in a congested network actually induces additional driving through various mechanisms and almost always fills back up with traffic, thereby eroding any travel time savings within a matter of a couple years, often months. The congestion from the works often consume as much or more of the short-term travel time savings accrued between opening and the time it fills back up. Worse, this induced driving spills over into the rest of the network and actually makes things worse overall. Sometimes, very localised capacity expansions will improve conditions at that location and remain improved because the upstream and/or downstream capacity remains constrained. This provides the impression to the drivers who only use that section of road that traffic has improved, but from a network perspective, nothing has been achieved and even for those drivers who use that section of road, they’ll then be frustrated about the next bottleneck, when in reality it’s the traffic from the old bottleneck spilling over and causing the new one. For reference on this phenomenon look up:
      – The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion (Anthony Downs was the first engineer to widely disseminate this, but it has been validated by much research since, Cervero and Handy are researchers who’ve done a lot of work on it)
      – “Triple Convergence” describes the mechanism by which the above Law works
      – Braess’ Paradox shows how often removing a link in a congested network actually improves the overall function of the network (works well in traffic, but also has applications in electricity, water, etc)

      This article does a good job to discuss the topic: https://www.vtpi.org/gentraf.pdf

      1. Lewis – I fear your post is far too factual for Luis to comprehend.

        Any criticism of a roading project and any promotion of a PT solution apparently bans people from driving. Literally takes their keys away.

        Notwithstanding that the criticism of the project in this instance is because its a disaster for car drivers, amongst others.

        1. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
          Regardless, this is useful info for anyone.

      2. I know the theory of “induced demand” and I can list a number of articles which will disagree with it. If we build a ten lane highway from Hamilton to Auckland it won’t fill up quickly because of “induced demand”, as we don’t have the population for that. But of course the cost of this won’t justify the benefits. So for me it’s not about “induced demand” and really cost X benefit of each project.
        For me, people chose the transport mode based on convenience, cost and reliability. If I live on the North Shore and have a rapid bus to the city, it runs often and doesn’t delay, and the cost is equal or less than the cost of commuting by car, then I won’t jump into a car just because they built a new lane on the motorway. But if I had to get a ferry, then a train and then a bus to get to my destination then I would prefer to take my chances in traffic.
        The question is not just build more roads, or more bus lanes, or more trains or trams, or bike lanes. It should be always a efficient cost-benefit analysis with no ideological bias. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be the case of most of people who visit this blog and the authors.

        1. “If we build a ten lane highway from Hamilton to Auckland it won’t fill up quickly because of “induced demand””

          Now Luis this is silly. It will still induce more driving, but simply because you’ve chosen an absurd dimension it may not clog, until it reaches the end of your fantasy 10 lane section, where it absolutely will. This in no way refutes the law of induced demand, which is not something you can chose to discount on such silly reasoning.

          Your second example is also flawed, infact there is a name for the observed phenomenon of people switching back and forth between modes on the same route depending on relative or perceived advantages: Nash Equilibrium.

          Here is a good description of this by a well respected Sydney transport academic :

          https://www.smh.com.au/national/new-motorway-will-derail-commuters-20140212-32hvs.html

          Perhaps you could link to your ‘number of articles which will disagree with it’, on induced demand. We like evidence here, as name calling about ideology convinces no one of anything; in fact it’s what ideologues do.

        2. “If we build a ten lane highway from Hamilton to Auckland it won’t fill up quickly because of “induced demand”, as we don’t have the population for that.”

          It will definitely induce demand and clog to shit at each end where it meets Hamilton and Auckland, with hours-long queues on the old and new roads.

        3. “If we build a ten lane highway from Hamilton to Auckland it won’t fill up quickly because of “induced demand”, as we don’t have the population for that”

          Err. Eventually it will. Try visiting Los Angeles to see this in practice

      1. Boring is listening to the author criticizing a road project because it’s “ugly”. As if Pakuranga Town Centre was a masterpiece of design where everybody wants to go to.

        1. If you thought Pakuranga Town Centre was shit now, wait until its got a concrete viaduct pushed through it.

  3. This and the busway to the North-west should’ve really been priorities over the years and at least begun by now

    1. Agree. Not building the NW busway during the motorway upgrades was the previous government’s biggest failure in transport, although the PPP contract for Transmission Gully isn’t far behind.

      1. Bingo. NW Busway is just a debacle. The AT and NZTA relationship reminds me of those movies where the local police and FBI get all shitty with one another over who has jurisdiction to run the investigation. Maybe just work together for a change. Someone i.e. Phil, needs to bang their heads together, point to the successful Northern Busway and stations and say ‘build that’, not eff around studying it and deciding what, and when, we should do it. Just do it now. And yes, it may be expensive, but its needed and things only get more expensive as time goes on. It’ll also be a darn site cheaper than light rail.

  4. I’ve heard people mention that the flyover is and eyesore but haven’t heard of any real alternative. What’s the alternative? A tunnel? Is the flyover really that bad?

    1. Yes it is. It is supposed to be a town centre. The last thing you do is build a concrete flyover right through the middle of a town centre. The flyover was kill off for this reason then some politicians brought it back from the dead.

    2. AT put forward an alternative a few years ago. It involved the busway taking a different route through the mall and crossing Reeves Road then joining Te Rakau Drive further down. This removed the busway from the Reeves Rd/Te Rakau Drive intersection, which meant it could function as it does now.

      Sorry, I can’t find the diagram of what AT proposed.

    3. I don’t get why they don’t just build the flyover road at surface level. It’d still remove the dogleg for people travelling between Waipuna Road and Pakuranga Road, but without the super ugly structure.

      1. I think the problem is the traffic will still need to contend with the intersection at Ti Rakau. The flyover is really an extension of the Eastern Aterial.

        1. Sure but presumably you still get a big chunk of the benefits by removing the dogleg, and at a much lower cost and you avoid the ugly structure.

    4. I have never understood why Waipuna bridge wasn’t aligned with the Pakuranga Highway from the Sylvia Park side. It would have avoided traffic turning left onto Te Rakau and then right onto the Pakuranga highway and vice versa which is the main source on congestion. The link from Te Rakau to Botany was built about 4-5 years later (Te Rakau simply joined Harris road prior to this) so i assume it was thought this would make it easier for traffic heading to East Tamaki.

      1. Because it was designed to run into a new motorway to be built parallel to Pakuranga Highway to the south. It’s a relic of the brave new world days of the 60s and 70s when they bought the bullshit fed to them by the American advisors that they could build three times the motorway network we have today within 20 years. Unfortuately the costings were out by an order of magnitude and they’d spent the whole lot just getting the first ones done.

  5. So, at the end of this project there will be a busway and, if I understand correctly, a cycleway from Panmure to Botany Town Centre.
    Botany Town Centre will be enhanced by the addition of the busway, giving it similar public transport links to what Sylvia Park already enjoys – both accessible from Panmure.
    Pakuranga shopping centre will have a new flyover. Is that really going to make it a more appealing destination than either of the other two? How do the businesses around there feel about this?

    1. I understand the owner of the Centre is in favour of the flyover, I can’t for the life of me see why. It is literally a potential customer bypassing device of his property with serious negative environmental effects on it too. Were he to want to develop apartment towers for example they would be less desirable with a motorway at balcony level or to look down on. It’s a mystery.

      You ask a good question. The busway will certainly make Pakuranga more accessible (for example I would consider visiting the excellent night market there with the Busway in place, whereas I will not drive there now). But the flyover and over capacity streets are big negatives in terms of attractiveness.

      This will make both centres more accessible, but may well make Botany a more desirable place to go of the two?

      1. I worked for a previous owner who was against it and managed to get it stopped. The AT team at the time got that it would have a major impact on the future Town Centre development. Just shows you can’t kill these things. It is hardier than SARS-CoV-2.

        1. Interesting. Of course local MP and Councillors have been frenzied fanatics for it, and, if memory serves me well, forced its return…

      2. Weirdly, I’m on a bus travelling through the pakuranga plaza as I read this… If the flyover is more of a diversion device to free up the new busway route than just increasing capacity, then I guess there’s benefit to it… But surely a better solution is to aquire land from the plaza and adjacent properties to make space for the busway? It seems weird that the plaza prefers the flyover. Its days as a shopping centre must be nearing the end, and the flyover must reduce the site’s appeal as a future residential/ commercial town centre & neighbourhood. Sylvia Park’s flyover doesn’t exactly feel cosy…

        1. Don’t believe the BS. They are using the busway to sell the flyover and pump the BCR. It would be much cheaper and much better BCR to just build the busway alone.

  6. This flyover was pushed by the then local MP Maurice Williamson if I remember correctly & we was also the one responsible for getting 60km/hr speed limits all around the area out that way. This is what happens when politicians meddle with an originally more better design.

    Most of the other issues I can put up with but the flyover ruins this project.

    For me personally to get from Mt Wellington to this area or beyond we would have to take 2 to 3 buses/trains at peak & it would take a wooping 49 mins (longer off-peak or less time if you walk for 10 mins) yet we can take a car and it takes a mere 7 min instead. I wonder which I’ll use?

    1. While he was a fan of it, he resigned from all ministerial portfolios on 1 May 2014 and was appointed the New Zealand consul-general in Los Angeles in 2016. He’s been gone a long time.

  7. Radical idea:
    Build everything except the flyover, but leave the space available to put the flyover in in future. Wait 5 years then see whether we still want to ruin the town centre irrepairably. The road layout proposed for all of the other roads already maintains the existing capacity for motorised vehicles, we shouldn’t be adding more.

    Also, I completely agree that cars need to be banned from the bit of Reeves Road that will end up under any flyover. The only accesses from that road are:
    two for the mall, which are at crossroads anyway; and
    private accesses to businesses that also have access from other roads; and
    one provate access with no alternative
    Only the last one is actually affected. Pay them compensation for the effect then close their access. Done.

    The two cul de sacs on William Roberts Road are awful too. The southern one could be removed by making the street one way northbound with a separated two way cycleway on the western side. The cross section would be the same width, but the 400m2 cul de sac could be used for parkland.

  8. I agree Sailor Boy. It would make sense to put in the busway & cycleways, see how that affects the area, then decide on whether or not the flyover is required.

    In addition, Covid-19 has now entered into the equation. People who have successfully worked from home for the last couple of months may not be eager to rejoin traffic jams (I’m not), which may naturally reduce the flow of traffic and spread it out through the day.

    People who have discovered walking and cycling around their neighbourhoods may be keener to extend their range on good footpaths and cycleways, especially if their trip is for a meal or to see a movie rather than to buy stuff that has to be brought home. (Smart businesses might want to capitalise with a “browse and deliver” service – the opposite to click and collect. Local delivery by electric bike w. cargo cart could really enhance your eco-credentials. Failing which, Uber drivers perhaps).

    Not to mention not building the flyover could release money for dealing with the welfare needs generated by our response to Covid-19.

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